Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grey matters

I should know better than to write something in a passing remark (or in my case, paragraph) and then just leave it hanging out there for you all to digest as you wish. So I'd like to take a moment to clarify my thoughts from yesterday's post.

If you look back to all the posts where I've mentioned the word "mindful" I think that you'll see that this mindfulness? It's been on my mind for a while now. For a while, I've noticed that that seemed to be the missing ingredient in my weight loss.

Lemme' back up.

I wasn't a chubby kid. I started gaining weight in my teens and when I graduated from high school I was a size 16/18. I have basically stayed that same size for the past 15 years. Sure there were a few years in there where I was heavier (including the years that led up to my starting WW), some where I was lighter (including the time that I got almost to goal at WW in 2001).

I first started Weight Watchers in the 8th grade. I remember that I was in the 160s. I don't remember whose idea it was, my doctor's, my mom's, or mine. But I joined. And I failed miserably. Because what is one of the worst things you can do to kids when they're asserting control over food? Force them to go to a Weight Watchers meeting with a member from your church and then bird dog them like hell to make sure that they're following the program. I know my mom thought she was doing the right thing, but it didn't exactly work out.

And each week, I'd sit around hearing women talk about fat, weight, and portion control. Years ago when I first started going, the leader I had made everyone take a turn in the meeting and say how much weight they lost or gained that week. Every person had to participate. To put it bluntly, it sucked.

Since then, I've joined WW several times. The program changed to a points system. I'd lost 46 pounds (in 4 months) to get to my lowest weight since I don't know when.

I did it by counting points. I did it because I know that a whole sleeve of fat free Pringles is 7 points. I ate sleeves of Pringles rather than eating fruit, veggies, and protein. I did a low fat, low calorie, high carb diet. And I felt like shit.

But I did it! I was a size 10 - and at 5'9", I looked great! Only because I didn't learn any healthy eating habits, it didn't stay off...and before I knew it, I had gained back those 46 pounds (and more!) in a few years.

But because it worked, I went back in July of '08. I lost 55 pounds in 10 months. And then I stopped. I hit a wall.

In August of '09, I was disgusted with myself. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to be healthier. So why couldn't I just do it already? I decided to see a therapist. I wanted to get over the abuse that happened in my childhood, wanted to get over an ex that cheated on me, and I wanted to shed this weight...once and for all. So I decided to see a therapist (you can read about that decision on my other blog, here).

And you know what happened in the therapist's office? I started to grow. I started to realize that I *can* trust myself. I started to realize that trusting myself brings GOOD things but that it's not always easy. I trusted myself and Joe when he went on a vacation with a woman (a vacation on which, they stayed in the same room - different beds - but still!). My friends said that he would cheat, that something was going on. Hell, the voice in my head warned me that that was the case. But I trusted myself and my gut on what kind of guy he is. I started trusting myself in relationships - both in personal and business. I started trusting that money would be there...I didn't need to hold onto it with such a tight fist.

I relaxed, I breathed. I realized that it felt better to not see the world in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, or all and nothing. Life in the grey area? It felt SO good, so nurturing, so...healthy.

And then, the strangest thing happened, I started to relax about food. I started to cringe when people termed their foods good or bad. I started realizing that the all or nothing approach to food was present EVERYWHERE on many blogs that I love to read, in the newspapers, and certainly on TV.

As I started learning to trust myself more, I realized that it feels SO much better than shaming myself into an eating style or exercise program. When running stopped becoming something I *had* to do, I enjoyed it as something I got to do. Taking that Mindful Body class back in February was life changing - I realized that if I trust my body with honest questions, it will come up with the right answers.

The thing is, by doing Weight Watchers, I've been able to figure out how when I follow the healthy guidelines, I feel better. I feel better when I eat meals with more protein (I really had no idea that I needed as much as I do). Because of WW, I started exercising again and fell in love with running.

I don't want to chuck all WW principles out the window...I don't want to throw away everything that I've learned. But I want to focus more on what will fuel my body for what it needs. I want to continue to trust myself in all aspects of my life - food being one of them.

I want to be able to scan my body for signals of when it's hungry and then eat - rather than eating because it's lunch time and that's when everyone else eats. I want to search my body for what it needs...if I haven't had enough vegetables, I want to eat them. Not because they're 0 points and I'm hungry and don't have points left, but because my heart, skin, eyes, etc. depend on that nutrition.

I want to run, play and (gasp!) ENJOY life versus being chained to the idea of points. I want to have a healthy relationship with food - and I can't do that when I still feel shameful that I don't track every day.

I don't expect everyone to understand. I don't expect everyone to support it. I know I might lose a follower or two. But I'm in this, ultimately, for me.

Weight Watchers is a great program. I've seen multiple people reach lifetime and keep off the weight. There are people that I absolutely love there who have given me a ton of support (my leader being one of them). I just want my eating to be a natural thing for sustenance rather than something that is governed by cravings.

My plan, at this point, is to continue going to WW - for the support that I get from the people around me. But I want to have a candid talk with my leader about the things that I'm working on. Basically, I want to go, get the support, hear good messages and but not feel guilted into tracking or be caught up in the scale. If I can't do the last two, then WW may not be a good fit for me at this time. It might be a better fit later...when I've mastered the art of mindfulness. But right now, I hate hearing people say in the meetings that they "can't have" something. I hate hearing people say that they had all veggies at a birthday party so they were "good" or that they stayed away from guacamole because it's "bad."

I'm open to all the options.

But I want to strive for intuitive eating. It might take awhile. And I might completely fail at it and be back to counting points in no time. It's going to be an exercise for sure...because I still can't turn off my brain when it sizes up points values for any given food.

But you know what? Maybe that's a good thing...maybe I don't have to do ALL intuitive eating or ALL Weight Watchers points.

Maybe what is best for me is a combination of the two -a mix, a blend... a grey.


Misspudding said...

Good for you.

I look forward to hearing about how it goes!

Margie M. said...

Well, that was great! I do still go to WW even after being at goal for over 5 years. Why? Because I know that keeping my weight at my goal and having someone keep track of that will help me to maintain that number on the scale. If I stop going at least for the monthly weigh-in....big, big trouble. I have to admit, though, that I no longer track my points on paper. Like you wrote, WW has taught me what to eat and the proper amounts to eat. I can generally figure what a 2-point snack will be and how many points 4 oz. of chicken breast will be. But more importantly, I know that 4 to 5 oz. of chicken is enough, thanks to WW. I also eat ALL foods that I want to eat (just check our diet here at WDW) but I try to limit those high calorie or fat. Knowing what foods to set limits on is important.

So...smaller fun pants....I think you are on to something here. I also think that you will keep your Followers anyway. We like you and root for your success!

P.S. I made a comment on my blog regarding your question to me! Thanks.

Margie M. writes at:

~Lesia and Clay~ said...

OMG~ I don't know you or even what meeting you go to but GOOD ON YOU GIRLFRIEND! I could not have said it better. I agree with EVERYTHING you said and I have had those same thoughts. I hope the best in your journey and I look forward to following your success.

Missa said...

I totally agree that you have to get your mind healthy and not just your body. Kudos to you.


Jams said...

I completely understand where you're coming from. In the meetings, it would drive me crazy to hear people talking about how "bad" things are or they were that week. Life happens. We have to deal with it.

What I might suggest is switching to the Simply Filling Technique with WW, since there's no tracking or counting (unless it's for the stuff that's not on the "list") and then your focus is on the healthy guidelines and listening to your body's cues. Just a thought.

And speak up in those meetings... remind people that there are no bad foods... that they aren't bad for eating something they once considered "bad." I'm sure your leader will appreciate your input... and if she doesn't, then find your way to Maryland and come to one of my meetings... I'd appreciate it!

Kellie said...

This is sort of what I was referring to with my comment yesterday. You can trust yourself and you should. Weight Watchers isn't meant to be a life long thing for everyone. If you feel like you are falling to the wayside again you can always rejoin. It will always be there.

But you know what I think? I think you have got it figured out and will continue to do well on your own! :)

And you are right... we shouldn't fear our food!




julielopez3 said...

Good luck! I have often felt the same way you do about people in WW meetings saying they ate something bad or stayed away from bad food. I thought the purpose of WW was to teach you every food is good food, you just have to eat it in the correct portions.
I have also gone to WW for just the support of my leader and other members and followed eating 40% protein, 40% carb and 20% fat. I kinda switch now between doing that and counting points. I think whatever works for you at the time is the plan to follow. I wish you success!